I have an absurd amount of games in my Steam library, but there is one game alone that has given me literally hundreds of hours of enjoyment. That game is Bohemia Interactive’s ArmA II: Operation Arrowhead.
For those who haven’t heard of this game before, ArmA II is a realistic military simulator set in a fictional ex-Soviet state of Chernarus, a 225 square kilometre map based on the real world. Many gamers have become familiar with ArmA II and Chernarus as a zombie apocalypse environment with thanks to Dean “Rocket” Hall’s mod for the game, DayZ.
While surviving the zombie horde in Chernarus was a unique and genuinely fun experience for me, it quickly fell victim to exploitation and hacking that not even the anti-cheat system BattlEye could get on top of controlling.
Enter survival sandbox Wasteland, a post-apocalyptic mod that aligns somewhat closer to the military simulator’s original experience and has significantly less hacking. Players can play as one of two squad factions (‘Blufor’ and ‘Opfor’) or they can elect to operate as an ‘Independent’, making their own decisions about who will be their friends and foes. Be warned — if you choose to play as either Blufor and Opfor factions, there are consequences for anyone who decides to kill their teammates, granting those who were killed with the ability to punish the offending member for doing so.
If indiscriminate killing is your thing, Independents operate on a free-for-all basis – there’s no punishments for killing anyone and you can still benefit from grouping with other Independents.
Similar to the DayZ experience, players will need to be resourceful and monitor their thirst, hunger and health levels. This means scavenging through towns in hopes of stumbling across food tables or water barrels as well as searching for first aid in a medical tent or visiting a local general store to purchase a medikit to replenish your health. Abandoned, often drivable, vehicles are scattered across towns usually with a random weapon of varied quality in the trunk to help you stay alive just that little bit longer. If your luck finding a weapon in a vehicle isn’t as great as you hoped, you can always head on over to a local gun store and purchase something that will tide you over until something better comes along.
Once the basic supplies have been gathered and loaded into your vehicle for transport, players can begin deciding what their next step will be: begin finding base building materials and create a place to hoard their loot or try hunting down someone else’s base and raiding them of their hard-earned treasures. Base building is definitely one of the most interesting elements and has been the center of many intense and fun fire fights I’ve been involved in.
Bases are limited only by imagination and building materials available. Players can configure their base using scavenged items such as deer stands, sandbag walls, ramps, cement barricades, netted tower nests and more. Each item can be placed anywhere throughout the map, rotating and positioning items however desired. Some players have been creative enough to build what they refer to as “sky towers” – bases that are built off the ground. Be prepared to defend anything you build, as enemy players will not hesitate to try and force their way into your base and deprive you of your precious possessions.
While building bases can be fun, there is no persistent saving as of yet so your hard work will be lost whenever the server restarts which can sometimes happen more than once a day depending on the server. If you don’t want to commit to building a base, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing else for you, though.
Many high value vehicles such as armoured SUVs, Humvees, helicopters, tanks (just to name a few) and powerful weapon caches are on offer as mission objectives that will randomly pop up over the map. Players and squads need to be efficient and plan ahead, as you will not only need to survive against the AI guarding objectives but will also need to be tactful in order to capture the objective before other players beat you to it. That said, just because someone captures an objective before you doesn’t mean you can’t gun them down and take ownership from them.
Beyond that, there isn’t much else to do in the game. The focus in Wasteland is very much on the PVP combat of killing players, completing missions and defending your base or assaulting others. The mod is constantly under development with server administrators often engaging their communities for feature suggestions and implementing their own take on what Wasteland means to them. If you haven’t tried this mod out yet, I highly recommend doing so.
Sounds amazing. What does Wasteland require to play?
To start playing all you need is ArmA II: Operation Arrowhead, which you can buy on Green Man Gaming for $15.90 using the code GMG20-P4DLK-FKYRS (valid until 4AM AEDT February 23). If you already own the ArmA II Combined Operations bundle, you do not need to buy anything.
How do I start playing?
Once you have installed the game, jump into the multiplayer section from the main menu and search the browser list for servers running “Wasteland”. It’s that easy. There’s no additional subscriptions or content to purchase and no additional downloads. Just don’t blame me when you find yourself terribly addicted to this mod!